With Christmas less than one month away, I’m delighted today to feature a guest post all about the traditional festive flower, the poinsettia.
Looking to inspire people with creative ideas for decorating with poinsettia, Stars for Europe (the EU-funded poinsettia campaign) have teamed up with celebrity florist, Larry Walshe, to decorate the glasshouse at London’s Clifton Nurseries for #POINSETTIAFEST, the first ever London Poinsettia Festival.
Larry’s innovative design ideas are fast making him the poster-boy of the poinsettia campaign, as the Clifton installations coincide with the publication of a stunning six-page feature of Larry’s poinsettia designs in Homes & Gardens magazine. “Until the Homes & Gardens commission, I had never worked with poinsettia on such a scale. And it has been great to show a range of uses for designing with poinsettia and to showcase varieties not normally associated with poinsettia, as well as the ever popular red.”
The first thing you see as you enter the Clifton glasshouse is a huge festive candelabra with poinsettia as cut flowers. “We’ve created a textural, Gothic-inspired candelabra installation, that draws inspiration from the plants found at Clifton Nurseries,” explains Larry. “We made a tapestry of textural English foliages, rich and opulent Red Naomi roses, red hypericum berries punctuated with intense pops of red cut poinsettia, and including fragrant rosemary, which gives a soft, gentle scent throughout the space.”
As you walk into the main plant area, you’re greeted by a vast, hanging canopy of poinsettia. “We wanted to create a fun, organic display for the festive season,” says Larry, “and designed a canopy to show how to use poinsettia en masse for festive entertaining to create visual interest and delight.”
From beautiful branches of copper-painted contorted willow, dozens of mossed kokedama poinsettia are suspended at varying heights to form a show-stopping display of the poinsettia in shades of red, pink and white and with striking forms of variegation. Floristry students at Lewisham Southwark College made the kokedama by wrapping the rootball of the poinsettia in a thick layer of flat moss and securing it with bindwire.
At Clifton, the canopy hovers over a table of planted poinsettia arrangements, designed by Clifton’s expert houseplant team, but would look spectacular and strikingly original above the Christmas dining table.
The principal source of plants for #POINSETTIAFEST is local poinsettia grower, Woodlark Nurseries of Walton-on-Thames just 17 miles away. At Woodlark, poinsettia come in red (‘Feelings Red’) but also splashed with cream (‘Glitter’), in vintage pink (‘Pink’), in creamy-red, in variegated red-pink (‘Ice Crystals’), in cream (‘Feelings White’) and Larry Walshe’s personal favourite, a hot pink variety named ‘Luv U Pink’.
“’Luv U Pink’ is my favourite, because I’ve never seen it before,” says Larry. “It’s such an intense colour and plays to the other flowers available at this time of year such as the ‘All 4 Love’ rose. It offers a new interpretation and option for using the poinsettia and would be perfect for a completely alternative Christmas, teamed with golds or platinums.”
WORKING WITH POINSETTIA
Cut Flowers: Using poinsettia as cut flowers is easy and excellent value. Simply snip the branch at a 45? angle and dip the end immediately into recently boiled water for around 5 seconds to seal in the milky sap. Then pop the stem into cold water to drink. You can arrange it in water or wet oasis and your cut poinsettia will last for at least 7 days.
Kokedama: Kokedama poinsettia are also simple to make. Simply take your poinsettia out of its plastic pot and wrap the rootball in a thick layer of flat moss. Secure the moss with bindwire. Then loop a length of twine, wire or wool around the ball such that you have equally balanced lengths of wire tied in position on either side of the plant to suspend it securely upright. To water, simply dip the rootball in water then let it drain off. Poinsettia do not like to sit in water, so the kokedama technique suits them.
Essential Poinsettia Care: Poinsettia need to be protected from the cold and draughts at all times. Their perfect temperature is 15-20?C. Too much water rots the roots. So water poinsettia very sparingly – a few drops every other day is sufficient. And finally, poinsettia prefer a light, sunny spot.
Here are some of the different varieties of poinsettia which you can expect to see at The London Poinsettia Festival at Clifton Nurseries:
‘Luv U Pink’
For more information about poinsettias, together with lots of inspiration, visit the Stars for Europe website.
And if you’re in London, do visit The London Poinsettia Festival which runs until December 23rd in the Houseplant Glasshouse at Clifton Nurseries, 5a Clifton Villas, London W9 2PH.
P.S. I’ll be visiting the Festival today and am planning on featuring photos and videos in my Instagram Story!
(Images : Julian Winslow | Stars for Europe)